(June 3)

Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.’” (Jn 8: 42-45)

When the Lord taught us to pray, the very first words he taught us to say are: “Our Father.” Because embracing God as “our” true Father opens us up to hearing what He has to say; what others of His children have to say; and turns us away from the abusive and self-isolated “father of lies,” the devil. The “murderer from the beginning,” as one who has disconnected himself from the Source of Life, Love, and Wisdom, does not love us, nor does he understand God’s purpose for us, which is to grow to become ourselves, as the “selves” God intends us to be, in communion with Him and others.

So the devil’s distorted versions of reality, (a.k.a. lies), about us and our world and our God, if we choose to accept them, not only throw us off track, (making us “miss the mark” of our purpose), but they ultimately “murder” true life in us, stunting our growth. The devil distorts both our “good” and “bad” moments, for example, by ascribing the “good” either to ourselves or to chance, and by exaggerating the “bad,” or prompting us to focus on it “according to his (the devil’s) own nature,” which is stuck. He is stuck, as John of Damascus explains the nature of the bodiless beings (angels and demons), who can’t change as easily as do we, because they don’t have a physical body. The choice they made long ago, to be with God or against Him, is one in which they are most likely to remain forever. If we continuously listen to “the father of lies,” we end up stuck in self-loathing or self-centeredness, both of which lead to crippling self-isolation, which is deaf and dead to God.

Our Father, today I open up to what You have to say, and not to what the devil has to say, about both the good and the bad in my life. Your word, seasoned with the “salt” of Your wisdom, compassion, and love for us, empowers me to move forward and grow, in the kind of “change” I can believe in; the “change of mind” that is “repentance” (μετάνοια), in communion with You. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”